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Royals

Prince William Meets With Sexual Abuse Survivors in Soccer

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Prince William made a poignant visit Tuesday morning to witness how a charity, Sporting Chance, is helping the victims of child sexual abuse within soccer. 

William visited Sporting Chance in Liphook, England, an organization that specializes in helping professional and former professional athletes with support for a range of issues including addiction, grief, depression and anxiety. William visited in his capacity as president of the Football Association (FA). The FA asked Sporting Chance to work with sexual abuse survivors since the reports of abuse within the world of soccer became public last year, because of the organization’s history of working with often-complex issues. 

Sporting Chance has developed a network of qualified therapists who are providing support to those who need help. Their services are available to all survivors of soccer-related, non-recent, childhood sexual abuse. During his visit, William — who last week announced he and Princess Kate are expecting their third child — met with the therapists and clinical psychologists who have helped to create the therapy programs and heard some of the personal stories of the survivors and learned how Sporting Chance has helped them.

Peter Nicholls - WPA Pool/Getty Images

William lauded Sporting Chance for the work they’re doing to destigmatize speaking out about the importance of mental health.

“I’ve always felt those young men get put into the situation where they have amazing feet, their skill with the ball is unquestionable, but everyone forgets about the rest of the body,” he said. “They forget about the head, they forget about how they have been brought up, about what they have been through.”

“We need to normalize this a lot more in stadiums around the country whenever we can and people, fans, players, need to see
that, the clubs, in particular, have a huge role in promoting that message,” William added. “It’s very damning on all of us that this has been brewing under there for a long time, these young men do not feel comfortable about some of this stuff.”

William speaks with survivors during his visit to Sporting Chance
Peter Nicholls - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The founder of Sporting Chance, former soccer player Tony Adams, agreed.

“If you’ve got a bad knee I think, the FA would pay for that player to have his knee done,” he said. “[They] should get him help for mental health. It’s exactly the same.”

Sporting Chance’s initiatives and mission align well with the work that William, 35, has been doing with Heads Together, a mental health awareness campaign that encourages people to open up about their own mental health and tackle the challenges people face. He, Princess Kate and Prince Harry have teamed up for several engagements and initiatives in support of the campaign.

That was only the first stop of the day for William. Later on, he headed to the McLaren Technology Centre to meet with members of their team. The British company creates some of the world’s most pioneering sports and supercars. On the visit, he toured the factory floor, met the designers, engineers, and technicians behind the cars, and was introduced to some of the company’s apprentices.